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Just Look at Those Hands
You've heard it over and over again: "Just look at those hands! Wash them!"
Sure. You get tired of hearing it. And you probably tired of washing up so often.
But if you knew—and if grown-ups knew—exactly why it's so important, handwashing would be "number one" on everyone's list of things to do.
You say you washed you hands this morning after you woke up? That's good. But now it's lunchtime. You mean you haven't washed your hands again? Once a day just isn't good enough—not if you want to keep harmful bacteria and other germs away!
We all know human hands are wonderful things. They can clap and snap. They can hold a napping cat or stir soup a vat.
But busy hands can also pick up dirt and germs. And these sneaky varmints love to play hide-and-seek.
Just look at the hands on the next page. See the lines, cracks and wrinkles where dirt and germs hide. You can see even tinier nooks and crannies if you look at your own hand with a magnifying glass. It looks almost like a sponge, doesn't it?
While you're looking, you may also see some dirt. But no matter how hard you look, you won't see any germs. That's because they are tiny creatures (micro-organisms) that can only be seen through a microscope.
Where do germs come from? They live everywhere. In fact, billions of them grow and live on your body every day. Their favorite hangouts are your hair, under your fingernails and in the small folds of your skin.
Most of these germs won't hurt you. In fact, you can't even get rid of many of them, no matter how hard you try.
But germs also come from the world around you, and some of these can hurt you. They can make you sick. Luckily, these are the sort you can do something about.
Do you know where your last cold came from? Scientists believe most people get colds and other illnesses by touching a sick person or by touching something a sick person touched. That doesn't mean you shouldn't touch other people or things. And it doesn't mean you have to wear gloves.
All you have to do is wash your hands.
Handwashing can also help you keep food safe. Let's say you're making lunch for your friends.
If your dirty hands touch the food, germs could spread, grow and cause food poisoning.
So next time, don't just look at those hands—wash them! Follow these handwashing tips:
Wash Your Hands Often. After you go to the bathroom. If you touch a cut or sore. And always before you touch food. Also, wash your hands after you touch raw meat or poultry. They may carry harmful germs too.
Lather Up With Soap and Warm Water. The suds scrub dirt and germs away.
Don't Leave Anything Out. Wash your hands front and back and between the fingers. Soap up your wrists too. And don't forget your fingernails. A good nail brush does the best job there.
Rinse Well In Warm Water. Those pesky germs will go down the drain!
—Paula Klevan Zeller
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